Understanding Heroin Addiction
Nobody ever chooses to become addicted—least of all to a substance as dangerous and as life threatening as heroin. Addiction is a true mental health disorder, not a matter of moral failing. Like any mental health disorder, it can be treated in a clinical setting, and with the right treatment, heroin addiction recovery is attainable to anyone.
Heroin itself is an opioid, the same class of narcotics that also includes many prescription painkillers. Opioids work by rigging the brain’s reward system, producing a high concentration of “feel good” chemicals. Over time, it becomes impossible to experience any kind of pleasure without higher and higher doses of the drug. Heroin is a particularly dangerous and potent opioid, but again, through clinical intervention and therapy, lifelong recovery can be achieved.
What Happens When People Abuse Heroin?
In normal circumstances, the brain releases certain chemicals—such as endorphins and dopamine—to make the body feel good, and to provide a “reward” for doing good things, such as exercising. Using any kind of opioid, especially heroin, messes with this process, and causes the brain to produce these chemicals at an unhealthy rate. The problem is that it creates a growing physical and mental dependence: Higher and higher doses of heroin are needed to feel any kind of pleasure, and withdrawal from heroin can lead to depression.
What Comes First, Drug Addiction or Mental Illness?
It is not uncommon for heroin addiction to be present along with other mental health disorders, which might include everything from depression to anxiety to bipolar disorder. These are called co-occurring disorders, and they can make diagnosis and treatment more difficult.
A common question is which comes first— the addiction or the co-occurring condition? There is no one answer to this question, and causation can be tough to prove. In some cases the addiction may be rooted in the same genetic condition that causes the other disorder; in other instances, drug abuse may have initially been a response to trauma, a kind of self-medication. Regardless, dual diagnosis care is needed to ensure that the underlying issue is properly treated.
Causes of Heroin Addiction and Dependency
There are a number of possible factors that can contribute to heroin addiction and dependency. Biology—the genes you are born with—is a big factor, especially when understood in the context of environment. Indeed, environmental factors can also play a big role—the upbringing you have, peer pressure, trauma, abuse, and so on. The specific cause of addiction may vary from one person to the next, but the important thing to remember is that lifelong recovery is possible for anyone, so long as treatment is sought from a center like Seacliff.
How Do You Know if You Have a Co-Occurring Disorder?
Another common question: How can you tell whether you have a co-occurring disorder? The truth is, co-occurring disorders often go undiagnosed and untreated. When addiction is in the picture, all symptoms tend to be attributed to the addiction, which means co-occurring disorders may not be given the attention they deserve. The solution is to seek out dual diagnosis care, which is what we offer at Seacliff. Dual diagnosis care will ensure that the root problem is identified, and that all conditions are treated effectively—not just addiction, but also any related mood or mental health disorders.
Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Addiction
As you wonder about co-occurring disorders and heroin addiction, it may be helpful to understand some of heroin addiction’s signs and symptoms. These can vary from one individual to the next, but some of the most common markers of heroin addiction include:
- Major increase in time spent sleeping
- Decline in performance at school or work
- Lying, stealing, or making excuses about drug use
- Decline in attention to personal appearance and hygiene
- Withdrawal from friends, hobbies, and passions
- More and more time spent obtaining and using drugs
- Markings or bruises from frequent needle use
Heroin Addiction Rehab Treatment Center
If you recognize any of these warning signs of heroin use—in your own life or in the life of a loved one—it’s vital to seek help right away. Recovery is possible through dual diagnosis treatment. Begin your new life, free of heroin and its grip. Reach out to Seacliff Recovery to learn more about the journey to wellness.